Interviews are hard enough even for the most unblemished candidate. However, if you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse behind you and have spent time at a rehabilitation center, you may be concerned that your work history and your resume gaps make you an unlikely candidate for future jobs.
While it is certainly something that employers will notice, an incident involving drug or alcohol abuse doesn’t have to become the focal point of your job interviews.
Here are some tips to help you overcome your fears and ace your next interview:
Don’t Mention Recovery Unless You Have To
There’s no need to make your job interview about your drug or alcohol recovery. It’s possible to have an entire job interview without even mentioning it.
Focus on your previous work and how your skills can benefit the company just as you would in any interview. When asked about strengths and weaknesses; choose examples related to your skill set, not your addiction or recovery.
The key to having employers hire you based on who you are now should always be the focus. Don’t start your interview off trying to explain something you have not even been asked about.
Speak Honestly About Your Recovery
Sometimes it becomes necessary to mention your addiction and recovery in a job interview. Should this situation arise, don’t be afraid to be honest.
- If you were let go from a job due to addiction, or if you have a large gap on your resume during your recovery it’s okay.
- Be prepared to talk about these issues with your interviewer.
- Remain honest, succinct and positive. Explain simply that you had a problem, that you chose to make changes and that you are now living a sober, addiction-free life. If your speaking honestly, your confidence will be what the employer notices.
- You do not need to mention specific details about your addiction or recovery. This is not a time to begin confessing your sins or becoming overly emotional.
It is also important to remember that your body language and how you express your addiction and recovery will be key to helping the interviewer understand who you are.
- Do not bring up your rock-bottom moments or elaborate on particular methods of treatment.
- Recovering from addiction is a mental health issue that is no different from a physical health issue, so speak about your recovery as if it were as simple and mundane as recovering from illness or surgery.
- Do not feel as if you have to go into great details about your specific addiction. No need to elaborate on the type of drugs you were involved with, or how much you drank a day.
- As with any medical condition, you are not required give full disclosure. As a former addict you are protected under ADA Laws just as anyone else would be if they had an illness.
Frame Your Recovery as a way of Overcoming Challenges
There is another way to mention your recovery in an interview, and it has to do with the idea of overcoming challenges.
Interviewers commonly ask how you have dealt with challenges in your life, and how you will deal with challenges in the workplace.
- Speak briefly about how you understood that your addiction was hurting not only yourself, but also your family and previous employers
- Express that you knew recovery was challenging but that you persevered and are a better person – and better employee – as a result.
Talk About Balancing Recovery and Work
Your employer’s first concern is whether you are able to do the job. Many people who are recovering from drugs or alcohol continue to attend meetings or rehabilitation centers to manage the long-term aftereffects of addiction.
If you are in the middle of recovery, look for rehabilitation centers that allow you to complete your recovery while maintaining a job.
- Recovery.org offers a great way to review centers and find one that meets your standards.
- Residents of Texas, for instance, have 612 inpatient addiction rehab clinics available to them. Use the site to search for your city and state and find local options.
- If you previously balanced work and recovery, speak positively about your experience.
- Assure the interviewer that you were able to manage both the demands of recovery and the demands of your job.
Prepare for the Full Interview, not just the Questions on Recovery
Don’t forget to prepare for the entire interview. Although you need to be prepared to possibly answer confidently about the subject, the interview is not going to be all about you and your recovery. Don’t forget to:
- Learn key facts about the company and be prepared to talk about why you want to work there.
- Focus your answers on how your skills can benefit the company.
- Study tips on how to handle stressful job interview situations and familiarize your self with the most common job interview questions.
- Consider holding a mock interview with a colleague or friend to practice.
Although it seems difficult, it is very possible to get a job after you have gone through a drug or alcohol recovery. Follow these steps, remain confident and remember that you are not defined by your addiction.
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